The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God,
serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.
This brings up so many thoughts within me. Yesterday I spent time with Reagan and Addie and had to remind them that there is NO occasion that you call ANYONE "stupid" or "ugly." But, they are kids and they are just learning, right?
Last night I watched a re-run of Law and Order SVU which was about bullying with teens and the murder that came out of that. But that is just a made up story, right?
I read another chapter of Broken Open about the aftermath of the events of September 11th. Elizabeth Lesser writes about being at a dinner party with friends who lean left politically. They were engaging in a partisan political discussion and the character assassination that can ensue which many of us are wont to do. But that is just them, right?
I am getting ready to preach in Zanesville this Sunday and working on a sermon about being called by Jesus into an alternate way of life. And this passage from Peter - this challenging passage - is one important aspect. We are called to maintain CONSTANT LOVE and understand that our speech - whether kids or teens or adults needs to be the words of God.
The news is full of so much acrimony and conflict and posturing and name-calling. Whether it is about ISIS or Caitlin Jenner or the thought of another Bush-Clinton rematch, I get wearied with it all but I don't believe that we are supposed to not care. I also wonder how much the media encourages us take on that way of relating to one another.
This is what Elizabeth Lesser writes:
"This is still the real work at hand: for each one of us to meet the bad in the world with the good in our own hearts. To energetically rouse ourselves out of tired habits and worn-out loyalties and replace them with bigger and broader circles of inclusion. It was time for me to let as many into the circle of family and tribe as I could: the president; the poverty-stricken people of the world hardened by years of war; the shortsighted corporate crusaders, gobbling up the resources of the world; the intolerant religious fanatics, clinging to simplistic answers in a mysterious universe. In widening the circle, I could still hold to my convictions. What I need to surrender was anger and judgment. What I needed to adopt was vision and humility."
What I need is to continue on this journey of surrendering to God so that maybe my speech and my life might reflect the compassionate love God. Here is a blessing by Maxine Shonk.
May the God of COMPASSION be with you,
embracing you when you are alone or worried or confused;
when your heart is besieged with pain.
May the wellspring of compassion flow deep within you until you know the enfolding of God's love and can taste the tears of your brothers and sisters who suffer.
May you be the warm hands and the warm eyes of compassion for those who reach out to you.
May the blessing of COMPASSION be with you.